Is Swansea a cakewalk or a banana peel?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Swansea - Premier League - 28.10.2017
Swansea. They've been a bit of a banana-peel over the years, one of those squads that we really should do better against than we have since they were promoted in 2011. However, they've frequently given just as good as (if not better than) they've gotten, even going so far as to win at the Emirates in two of their last three visits. As such, we'd do well to look past their recent form and focus on our own, which, Everton not withstanding, has hardly inspired confidence.
In fact, red cards might deserve just as much credit for recent results as our own play. Against Red Star, after all, it was only after Rodic was sent off that we found a goal. Again, against Everton, it was only after Gana was sent off that we were finally able to carve Everton open. Withuot dwelling on the issue too much, the only match in which we've really looked convincing was at Stamford Bridge—a match in which, again, a red card helped us. At some point soon, meaning by Saturday, we will have to refine tactics other than getting clattered enough to convince to referee to send someone off.
If there's good news, it's that the Everton match gave us, at long last, a glimpse of what it can be like to see Alexis, Lacazette, Ramsey, and Özil on the pitch together. Even if Everton are in utter disarray, even if they were down a man when our quartet finally erupted, it's matches like those that produce confidence and chemistry for tougher fixtures down the line. I hope I don't slight Mr. Nketiah by omitting him after his outburst against Norwich, but I'm sure he'll take it in stride. The larger point is that the attacking options we now have available after injuries and interlulls should be more than enough to overwhelm any keeper, even one as fine as Fabiański. Even if there were times when Alexis and Ramsey bickered or remonstrated about the other's wastefulness and selfishness, the threat that they and Lacazette can pose with Özil's service should strike fear into most keepers' hearts.
From the other end, we'll have a bit less to worry about from the Swansea attack, such as it is. They've scored just six goals and look likely to struggle without the services of Wilfried Bony, and they've depended almost entirely on starlet Tammy Abraham, who's scored four of those goals, two of them against Huddersfield, one against Watford, and one against Palace. Most of his service and most of Swansea's attack will likely come down our right side as Jordan Ayew and Tom Carroll lead the squad in assists and key passes, respectively. The absence of the loaned-in Renato Sanches deprives the Swansea of some creative spark and defensive grit in the heart of the midfield, but it must be noted that Swansea have still managed to hold their own in the Prem. As perhaps a signal of their priorities, Paul Clement named a much-changed XI for their League Cup clash with Man U, suggesting that he wants to focus on climbing the Prem ladder. His emphasis on defensive stability does show Swansea to have conceded just ten goals in nine matches.
Long story short, we may have our work cut out for us. Given that Fabiański will likely bring his best back to the Emirates, we may just have to be patient. On the other hand, they may just collapse as they did the last time we faced each other as they conceded two own-goals on their way to losing 0-4. Against our quarter, the larger part of me suspects the latter.
LAST THREE Meetings
- Swansea 0-4 Arsenal (14 Jan 2017)
- Arsenal 3-2 Swansea (15 Oct 2016)
- Arsenal 1-2 Swansea (2 March 2016)
- Arsenal have lost the last two times they've hosted Swansea.
- There have been less than 2.5 goals scored in Swansea's last nine away-games.
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their last seven home-games.
Cazorla, Chambers, Mustafi, Ospina, and Welbeck have all been ruled out.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny; Kolašinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerín; Sánchez, Özil; Lacazette.
Despite our history against Swansea and their own rather stout form, look for Arsenal to eviscerate Clement's side rather ruthlessly.
Arsenal 4-1 Swansea.
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